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Different ways to take part in Canadian Environment Week

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Hang dry your clothes to safeguard biodiversity.
Nadia Caron © Environment Canada

Getting involved is the first step towards preserving Canada’s environment. Celebrate Canadian Environment Week by helping to sustain the environment. Here are ideas and activities that you can do that will make a difference. You can participate anywhere and at any time.

At home:

  1. Save on air conditioning costs in the summer by opening your windows at night, and then keeping them closed during the day with the curtains drawn.
  2. Have a trash-free barbecue and invite guests to bring dinnerware (utensils) or use a Frisbee as a plate. This is good for the environment and good for your health (running after it) afterwards.
  3. While it is tempting, try not to open the door of your oven when using it. It reduces the oven temperature, therefore wasting precious energy.
  4. Instead of washing your car yourself, take it to a car wash. This saves more water than you think.
  5. Turn your yard into a sanctuary for local wildlife by planting wild flowers, supplying water and setting up a bird feeder.
  6. Use cedar chips instead of mothballs. Not only do they smell better, but they are better for the environment too. There are chemicals in mothballs that can harm animals, our environment and us if used incorrectly.
  7. Turn your thermostat down by a couple of degrees. You may find that you do not even notice the difference.
  8. Plant trees to shade your house. This will minimize your air conditioning costs in the summer.
  9. Install ENERGY STAR® Qualified Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) wherever possible, for maximum energy and money savings.
  10. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. This will help save hundreds of litres of water annually.
  11. Organize a clothing swap. Clear out unwanted clothing items from your closet and exchange them with friends and family in a special event or just for fun. This is a great way to renew your wardrobe, while at the same time saving money. Remember, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
  12. Wash your clothes using cold water. Many detergents clean just as well in cold water.
  13. Reduce the amount of municipal solid waste going to landfills by participating in recycling programs that include curbside pick-up, return-to-retailer or enviro-depot drop-off locations. Visit your municipality’s website to learn how you can do your part to conserve resources. 
  14. Feed the land and not the landfill. Collect organic waste for composting. By composting kitchen scraps and yard waste, you can cut your garbage by one third. If your municipality does not have a composting bin program, you can build or purchase your own backyard composter.
  15. Dispose of your household chemicals safely. If not disposed of properly, household hazardous waste such as paint, solvents, cleaning products, motor oil, automotive batteries, fuel and fluorescent light bulbs can cause harm to human health and the environment. Consult your municipal government’s website to learn how.
  16. Hold a garage sale to reuse your unwanted items instead of tossing them. Not only will you help the environment, but you will earn a few dollars doing it.

At work:

  1. Take public transit or carpool. Not only will you help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will save you money on fuel. Join the Commuter Challenge!
  2. Instead of wrapping your lunch in aluminum foil or saran wrap, use reusable containers.
  3. Turn off your hard drive when you are not using your computer. This will double its life and save energy.
  4. Shut off your computer and monitor before you leave for the day.
  5. Turn off the lights in meeting rooms when not in use.
  6. If you are the last to leave in the evening, volunteer to turn off your section's printer, and team up with an early bird that can start it up again in the morning.
  7. Use the stairs when only going up or down a few floors. It's also good for your health.
  8. Reduce the amount of bottled water you drink. Bring your own mug for coffee or tea. Every time you use a reusable mug, you are saving one disposable cup.

Anytime, anywhere:

  1. Volunteer at a local charity that focuses on the environment. You can search for registered Canadian charities on the Canada Revenue Agency website: www.cra.gc.ca
  2. Go for a picnic in a forest or natural reserve near you. This Canadian Environment Week, simply enjoy the many pleasures that Canada’s forests have to offer.
  3. Participate in an activity to celebrate Canadian Environment Week. Check out Environment Canada’s Facebook page for an activity happening in your community. If there are no events happening in your community, why not organize your own?
  4. To avoid pollution and harm to wildlife from plastic bag litter, always keep a reusable shopping bag handy. Bring eco-friendly reusable bags when you shop. These long-lasting bags are made from canvas, cotton, linen or hemp. Unlike their plastic cousins, they will not spend an eternity in landfills.
  5. Consider alternatives such as baking soda, vinegar and water to traditional household cleaning products. This is not only cheaper, but can be better for your health.
  6. Walk short distances to the mailbox, local video or grocery store, and school. Exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and save fuel and greenhouse gas emissions.
  7. Did you know that open burning of garbage (i.e., in barrels, open pits, outdoor furnaces, woodstoves or fireplaces) releases a hazardous mixture of cancer-causing compounds and other toxic substances? Even seemingly harmless materials like paper, cardboard, yard waste and construction debris should not be open-burned and should instead be recycled, composted or disposed of at an approved facility. More information is available under the Pollution and Waste sections of our website.
  8. Make it a habit to turn off lights even when leaving a room for a short period of time.
  9. Adopt a park. Get your community or environmental group to develop a park protection and clean-up plan, assigning a specific task to each member. Join a friends-in-the-park group. Take part in the improvement of a municipal, provincial or national park.
  10. Learn about species at risk in Canada and what is being done to help them. Get involved in decision making and recovery activities. For more information, visit the Species at Risk Public Registry at sararegistry.gc.ca.
  11. Take part in a tree-planting campaign during Canadian Environment Week. GreenWave is a multi-year global campaign that enables children and youth to make a difference--one school, one tree, one step at a time. Plant a tree and register it at www.greenwave.cbd.int
  12. Go for a day hike on a local nature trail and revel in the beauty and serenity you are trying to preserve for future generations.

 On the Web:

  1. Share your knowledge with the world and create your own instructional YouTube video on how to be environmentally friendly. Check out EC’s YouTube videos for ideas.
  2. Email the editor of your newspaper to express your commitment and urge your fellow citizens to take action on preserving Canada’s forests.
  3. Join Facebook groups that help save the environment. If there is not one already set up, create your own. Your friends may also want to get organized for action.
  4. Spread the word. Check out Environment Canada’s Twitter page and re-tweet our tweets on Canadian Environment Week.

For more information on what you can do to help the environment, please visit www.ec.gc.ca/enviroweek.